A study of influenza virus infection in the hamster has yielded the following results:
1. Two influenza A strains (Ga. 47 and PR8) multiplied readily in the hamster lung, although no lung lesions were produced during six serial passages. On further passage both viruses abruptly acquired the capacity to produce pulmonary consolidation and death of the animals.
2. Extracts of the lungs during the early passages contained complement-fixing antigen and infectious virus, as revealed by titration in mice and embryonated eggs. Agglutinins for chicken, human, and guinea pig red cells, however, were not demonstrable at this time. With further passage a close correlation was observed between the capacity of the virus to produce lung lesions in the hamster and to agglutinate mammalian types of red cells. In addition, quantitative changes in the virus population were demonstrated in the lung extracts by complement fixation tests and titrations in mice and eggs.
3. Incubation at 37°C. was effective in bringing out agglutinins in high titer for chicken red cells in lung extracts, which originally failed to agglutinate chicken cells but agglutinated mammalian red cells. This method did not increase the titers of mammalian cell agglutinins.
4. The body temperature of the hamster was found to decrease within 1 to 4 days after inoculation of influenza virus. In the early passages the temperature returned to normal within 24 hours, but with the development of the pathogenic strain of virus the temperature remained at subnormal levels until death.
5. The Lee strain of influenza B virus produced pulmonary lesions in the hamster on the first passage and no increase in pathogenicity of the virus occurred during eleven serial passages. Virus was demonstrable in extracts of the lungs by all the methods used and no difference was observed in its capacity to agglutinate fowl and mammalian types of red cells.
The implications of these findings are considered briefly in the discussion.